Malloy already modified to win the support of package store owners, but the legislature’s General Law Committee is expected to vote on a bill tomorrow that eliminates the medallion system and the minimum pricing structure Malloy proposed. The bill will allow Sunday sales from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and allow package store owners to discount one item per month.
Sen. Paul Doyle, D-Wethersfield, said last week that even though changes to the minimum pricing structure won’t be included as part of the bill he still believes the bill “makes the most sweeping changes to Connecticut liquor laws since the Great Depression.”
According to Doyle the biggest change will be allowing package stores to stay open on Sunday. The package store owners are divided on the issue of Sunday sales based on their location. Stores on the border of Massachusetts and New York tend to like the proposal, while stores toward the middle of the state don’t see the benefit. The Connecticut Package Store Association said the morning of the public hearing on the bill that it’s okay with Sunday sales as long as some of the other provisions are stripped.
As for the changes to a broad minimum pricing structure, Rep. Joseph Taborsak, D-Danbury, said allowing package stores to offer one item per month below the minimum price will give customers the opportunity to shop around for the best price.
“They can look for these bargains and benefit from that,” Taborsak said.
But Malloy touted his package as something that would benefit consumers and not the special interests in the industry.
For too long, the liquor industry has been a “regulated and protected industry” Malloy has said.
Brian Durand, spokesman for the Office of Policy and Management, said last week that the administration is still discussing the bill with lawmakers and there is still time to make changes.
Asked if the governor would support the version of the bill General Law is drafting, Durand said it’s Malloy’s bill.
“He’s committed making liquor regulations more consumer friendly,” he added.
Taborsak said allowing consumers to purchase liquor on Sunday when they’re out shopping for the week is a measure that’s consumer friendly.
“That’s a real positive change and one that’s very much supported by polls and the general public,” he said.
As for the medallion system Taborsak said there just “too much confusion about it and there wasn’t enough support.”
The governor had planned to issue to package store owners a medallion for each store. The medallions could then be bought and sold on an open market. A medallion could be used to open a store in any town. But package store owners felt it would have devalued their assets. Malloy later modified the bill to limit a medallion to be sold per every 2,500 residents, instead of opening the system statewide, but lawmakers weren’t convinced.
So instead of creating a medallion system and changing the minimum pricing structure, the General Law Committee’s bill creates a task force to study the issues.
Concepts lawmakers weren’t comfortable making into law this year will be studied by a task force, Taborsak said.
Doyle said lawmakers need to understand the impact of these changes before voting on them.
“We just weren’t convinced,” Doyle said of the changes to the minimum pricing structure.
He maintained that the changes lawmakers planned on making were significant, even if they didn’t do everything the governor had proposed.
“In January we weren’t doing any reform of alcohol then in January the governor introduced this bill and we’re making significant changes,” Doyle said.
Hugh McQuaid contributed to this report.